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DBT 27: Building Positives

Basically as you might guess, building something positive. Stuff that makes you feel good about you.

What do you like? Make a list.

I like reading, building things out of LEGO, making videogames, sewing, running, dancing, cooking a new recipe, writing, learning a new skill, painting, hanging out with my friends, seeing a movie, etc.


All of these things make me feel happy and accomplished when I work on them.

I assume for regular folk who don’t struggle with self loathing or feelings of worthlessness that building a positive is fairly easy. But for some of us, it is very difficult. For various reasons we struggle with the positive or having things for our self. “No, I don’t deserve that.” “No I can’t do that.” “I’m not good enough.” “It’s all meaningless anyway.” And all the other crap we tell ourselves.

You are allowed to have nice things. You deserve them. I deserve them. Even I cringed a little writing “I deserve to be happy.”

Sometimes I don’t want to build positives because like the Doozers in Fraggle Rock who are constantly building a city only to have it eaten by Fraggles, I’m always worried that if I enjoy something it’s going to go away. That if I allow myself not to suffer, that I’ll open myself up to ruin. That if I put my city out there, someone will smash it. Especially if I try to enjoy something in the open.


As a survival method from all these Fraggles, I often enjoy things in secret or minimize my enjoyment. I’ve speculated that there are secret Doozer cities that never get eaten, and the one out in the open is solely for Fraggle consumption and the Doozers who work out there get danger pay. I prefer to work and be happy in the secret and safety of my own home. I don’t want people see projects I am working on because I know they will ruin it. Sometimes unintentionally. Fraggles aren’t entirely assholes, they are use to eating Doozer cities. They think the Doozers like building and therefore see themselves as part of the ecosystem. They don’t really think about it anymore. It’s still a dickish thing to do.


When you become depressed it becomes near impossible to rebuild your city. Even maintaining your secret city becomes a burden. I’m great at making myself feel happy when I am happy. I’m shit at it when I want be sad. I’m shit at building stuff when I want to roll over and say “fuck it, let the Fraggles have it.” That’s when you need to build positives the most.

Building positives is part of self care. When you are having a bad day you need to do something positive to make yourself feel better. I tend to blank out and let myself suffer. Sometimes we convince ourselves that life is too bad to be happy. e.g because you are grieving a loss, you can’t dare allow yourself to feel happy.


I cheat.

For me learning a new skill is something that makes me really happy. I feel like I accomplished something. When I feel bad, and I feel don’t deserve something I can almost always do some form of work, because it doesn’t feel like it’s something that generates happiness in a normal sense. It’s something that needs to be done. e.g I always get a kick out of doing the dishes. It makes the world feel less awful. It also isn’t fun, so I don’t feel bad about doing them. Doing the dishes doesn’t feel like something I should avoid doing, so I can do them (not always) and generate a little happiness to make it so I might be able to watch a movie.


I’m doing some free courses, and I find note taking to be very soothing. It’s not fun, but it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something which makes me feel better. It also convinces me that I have the ability to change my world. Of course, sometimes it super depresses me. When my PTSD was out of control, my memory was so bad that reading was impossible. I could only retain a few sentences for very short periods of time. When I was that bad, I try to cheat again and pick up ‘sad blanket’ a blanket I only work on when I am really sad. Mechanical effort of crocheting and watching it slowly get bigger makes me feel better. I didn’t have to remember more than a few stitches. Granny squares are fairly easy to do, so my body would remember the count whereas my brain couldn’t.

Once I feel better I can do stuff that makes me happy.

Of course, you also need to be aware of numbing behaviours. I had very bad addiction to World of Warcraft, so when things are bad I tend to go back online and play for hours. When I play games, I have to immediately stop when it feels like I am compelled to play it. If starts to feel like old addict me, I’m out right away. (not always, but my resistance is better than it was.)


Also you have to try not to be so hard on yourself. I have little rules to make feel okay with some of my behaviours that generate guilt and shame, but are also soothing.


e.g I’m not allowed to drink alone when I am depressed, but I am allowed to have 2 cigarettes in one day. (Yup, the smoking I took up has stayed. I’ve always liked it and now I’m gonna allow myself to smoke twice a week max when I need it.) I’m okay with this.

If I play World of Warcraft, I can only play excessively during the Darkmoon faire and Hallows End. (1 week every month, and all of October). As soon as I feel stressed or like “I have to do something” I immediately start fishing. Yup, I literally go fishing which is one of the most dull things you can do in WoW. But it requires enough of my concentration (like the sad blanket) that makes some of my bad feels go away.


If I binge watch Netflix, I have to watch a movie I haven’t seen and must select it from my list in 1 minute. I have the tendency to watch the same thing over and over again. This makes me feel a little better because at least I am seeing something new.

These kinds of rules eliminate a lot of the guilt when I engage in ‘bad’ behaviours. I avoid excessive drinking, but I still get some relief in something that is often considered worse, but I don’t get weird from smoking.


I’m told building positives will help you develop a greater sense of self and self confidence, which makes your city harder to smash. It’s kinda like building a defense against the Fraggles. I wonder if the Doozers ever thought to poison their city...

... (I’ve probably missed the point. :P )

Keep building your city GT.

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